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What are the best cheap Samsung phones? We tested all of them, here's our top 4
When it comes to great budget phones, Samsung is the undisputable king. When considering which one to buy, you have to keep a few things in mind:
- How far can you stretch your budget?
- Is 5G available in your region? Do you need the extra speed?
- Will you buy unlocked or via a carrier?
The good news here is that no matter what your needs are, there’s an affordable Samsung phone out there for you. To help you choose, we’ve tested every model currently sold and selected the four best cheap Samsung phones you can buy. Check out our buyer’s guide if you’re not sure what to look for, or just keep reading to see our top pick. Looking for a cheap phone and willing to venture outside of Samsung’s ecosystem? We have a guide for the best cheap phones that you should check out.
The Galaxy A53 5G is the best cheap Samsung you can get
Although it will stretch your budget a bit at $450, the Galaxy A53 5G is our pick for the best budget Samsung phone out there. We found it to be one of the most well-rounded smartphones you can buy, regardless of price. Plus, you’re getting Samsung’s unbeatable guarantee of five years of security updates, which means this phone will last you for years to come.
Starting with the cameras, the four-camera setup on the A53 5G really impressed us with its versatility. Gone is the oversaturation found in Samsung phones of the past, and all of our test photos were sharp and showed accurate colors. The main shooter, ultrawide, and telephoto lenses are all useful in daily point-and-shoot photography, although we still think the macro lens offers little more than niche appeal.
The Galaxy A53 5G is one of the most well-rounded phones you can buy — regardless of price.
Battery life is also superb, lasting nearly two full days in our testing. The relatively quick 25W charger also topped off the phone in just 85 minutes. Unfortunately, there’s no charger included in the box, so you’ll have to find a compatible model if you don’t already have a USB-C charger at home.
Another thing we loved about the A53 5G is the screen. It’s a crisp, speedy 120Hz Super AMOLED display with options to reduce refresh rates to further boost battery life. This is the best display that we’ve tested in this price range, even outside of Samsung’s affordable phone lineup.
The Galaxy A53 5G is powered by an Exynos 1280, which we found to be fine for daily tasks, if a bit underpowered compared to more expensive Samsung phones. It also features 128GB of storage, which we think is perfect for most users, plus the option to increase that with a simple microSD card. This model also features 5G, which is a great way to futureproof your device for network upgrades.
Although we think it’s worth the premium, you can save a bit of money by picking up the previous model, the Galaxy A52s 5G. It drops the telephoto camera and a bit of battery life, but retails for slightly less at $415. Depending on the current sales in your region, that might make it an even better value than the A53 5G.
What makes it stand out
- Versatile cameras: A powerful main camera backed up by ultrawide, telephoto, and macro lenses make this the complete camera package.
- Beautiful display: The 120Hz Super AMOLED is bright, crisp, and speedy in all situations.
- Fantastic battery life: The 5,000mAh battery lasts for nearly two days, and charges back up quickl.
- Solid storage: 128GB is enough to store photos and apps for most people, and the microSD card slot makes it easy to upgrade.
- 5G: Not every region has access to the latest mobile networks, but this phone is ready for the future.
The Galaxy A32 5G offers incredible value for the price
While we were more impressed by the breadth of features offered by the Galaxy A53 5G, we have to admit that the Galaxy A32 5G hits a really attractive price point. It’s a little over a year old at this point (the Galaxy A33 5G didn’t come to the US), but that means that discounts make it an even more attractive buy.
In our testing, we found the A32 5G to check all the right boxes: solid performance, decent cameras, and above-average battery life. Granted, it’s still a cheap Samsung phone that shouldn’t be compared to the likes of the Galaxy S22, but for the vast majority of users we think this is a great daily driver phone.
One aspect we were particularly impressed by is the design. Most budget phones aren’t much to behold, but the A32 5G has a sleek, elegant design with tough Gorilla Glass 5 to prevent any damage. We did find it a bit slippery though, so we’d still recommend getting a case if you want to keep it safe in the long run.
At $279, this is truly the sweet spot for budget phones. It’s affordable for just about anyone, and dropping any lower means sacrificing some key features. And in a rarity for phones these days, it includes a charger in the box.
What makes it stand out
- Solid performance: It won’t win any speed tests, but for daily use this phone gets it done.
- Good cameras: The main camera and ultrawide provide good results, although the macro lens is too niche.
- Value: This phone represents the Goldilocks spot in Samsung’s cheap phone lineup.
The Galaxy A13 5G is cheap or free with carriers
We don’t think the Galaxy A13 5G is the most impressive cheap Samsung phone out there, but if you can get it through a carrier, it can easily be the cheapest. This phone is frequently available for huge discounts (or free) on contract in the US, and despite its fairly standard design we think it’s a pretty good budget buy.
The phone itself performed admirably in our testing. The main camera gave solid results in good lighting, performance was great for everyday use, and battery life topped out at two full days. However, the big intangible advantage here is Samsung’s commitment to updates: this phone will continue to receive support for five years. At this price, that’s unheard of outside of Samsung’s lineup.
That said, we did find some issues that might put some users off. The display isn’t particularly sharp, and it’s a bit dim in daylight. We also found camera performance seriously lacking in low light without a dedicated night mode, and the secondary ultrawide and macro lenses were somewhat disappointing.
But really it comes down to price. This phone is significantly more expensive than the previous year’s model if you buy it outright, and most of that is due to the inclusion of 5G. If you don’t need 5G, there are cheaper options. In fact, there’s even an LTE model of this very phone, which swaps out the processor and a few other components to bring the price down by nearly $100.
That said, we’re not recommending you buy this phone unlocked. We’re recommending you get it through a carrier, and there are significant savings to be had. Currently, you can get it for free via T-Mobile or for just $2 a month from AT&T. We think that’s a fantastic deal, and this device is more than capable for the vast majority of users.
What makes it stand out
- Price: It’s expensive unlocked, but you can get it for free or cheap via carriers in the US.
- Battery life: We got a full two days of battery life, although there’s no charger in the box.
- Camera performance: The main camera is solid in good lighting, providing some good shots in our testing.
The Galaxy A03s is the cheapest Samsung phone we recommend
We won’t lie, the Galaxy A03s is a really basic phone. However, if you’re looking for a cheap Samsung phone that can still hold up in daily use, it’s the absolute cheapest phone we recommend. You’ll have to temper your expectations since it’s under $200, but it’s still capable of getting the job done.
In our testing we found performance and build quality to be a bit lacking, but considering the price, these are the compromises you’ll have to make. On the plus side, the relatively weak processor affords great battery life — two days of moderate use — although once again there’s no charger in the box.
Ultimately, what earns this phone our recommendation is Samsung’s commitment to updates, which is the same five-year guarantee as its flagship phones, some of which cost ten times as much as this one. This phone can be a great first smartphone for just about anyone, and it’s a solid introduction to One UI and Samsung’s Android ecosystem.
What makes it stand out
- Affordability: This is one of the cheapest Samsung phones you can get in the US.
- Battery life: The beefy 5,000mAh battery lasts for two days of moderate use.
- Longevity: Like all Samsung devices, this phone will receive five years of support, although you’ll probably upgrade before then.
What to look for in a cheap Samsung phone
Cheap Samsung phones are among the best budget handsets you can buy, but there are a few things you should consider to find the right device for you:
Look at value
It can be tempting to buy a phone based exclusively on the pricetag, but we recommend thinking about the overall value a device represents instead. If a phone costs $100 more but will last a few years longer, it’s a better deal. This can come in the form of better build quality to resist breaking or a better powerful processor to run more demanding apps in the future.
5G or not 5G
Although most of the devices we’ve listed above support 5G connections, you may not need it depending on your local area and use cases. If you don’t use data much outside of your home or live in a rural area, you can probably save a little money and get an LTE-only phone.
Unlocked vs carrier
In the US, much of the mobile phone market works via carriers. Depending on which company you have your phone plan with, you may be able to get huge deals on Samsung phones. This is true both for flagship devices like the S22 lineup and budget devices in the A series, some of which are available for free on contract.
One camera to rule them all
When it comes to budget smartphones, you should generally ignore any extra camera lenses. In most cases the primary shooter is the only one that consistently provides results, with low-resolution ultrawide and macro cameras added as an afterthought. Of course, if cameras aren’t important to you, this won’t be an issue.
Not at all! In fact, Samsung makes some of the best budget devices on the market, especially in the US.
Although the hardware is typically good, the real value of Samsung devices is in the software. It’s highly customizable and comes with an industry-leading five years of updates. That said, if you have more to spend we highly recommend considering a Samsung flagship too.
If you’re in the US, the best way to get cheap Samsung phones is through a carrier. You may be able to get good deals secondhand, but this can be risky, especially in this price range. Also check out our best smartphone deals page for more great deals.